Daniel Nava is no Bob Zupcic, but that’s neither here nor there.
Last week, Jeremy Lundblad, part of ESPN’s “Stats and Information” Dept., which is sort of like Fangraphs for Dummies, broke down the struggles of the Red Sox outfield this season and got down and dirty with the numbers solely using the tell-all statistic of…batting average to make his point.
Yes, as Lundblad points out, the outfield of J.D. Drew, Darnell McDonald, and Jeremy Hermida (who has played once since June 5, mind you) is the team’s third-lowest-batting outfield in the past 35 years, bested only by 1992’s Bob Zupcic, Tom Brunansky, and Billy Hatcher (.246) and ’94’s Otis Nixon, Mike Greenwell, and Lee Tinsley (.254). But if we’re going to use Hermida in this argument, we might as well utilize Tinsley, Rudy Pemberton, and Billy Ashley into the equation, for they have about as much current relevance.
The big picture in this case simply doesn’t tell the story, especially if you’re using a guy that hasn’t played in nearly a month to make your point. So, let’s whittle it down to June only, shall we?
This month, Red Sox outfielders are batting .280 as a whole, fifth-best in the American League. But (and stop us if this is too confusing for you) the outfield’s OPS over that stretch is .830, third-best in the league. They are slugging .468 (third), with an OBP of .362 (fourth).
Lundblad makes the point that the Red Sox are winning in spite of their outfield, which is really folly. Boston is 17-8 this month thanks in some part to the emergence of Nava and a somewhat healthy J.D. Drew, whose .980 OPS is third-best among AL right fielders this month. You could make the case they’re finally winning consistently because their outfield is finally seeing some level of the same.